Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.” (Mark 4:30-32)
If you are like me, you often yearn for greatness. You want to succeed, to feel powerful, and to feel like you are contributing. I love results: feelings of achievement, uniqueness and purpose.
Having this desire as my natural disposition, you can imagine how stretching it is for my soul to start a primarily relationally based church in the midst of a pandemic! Currently, there are no opportunities for large gatherings to somehow stroke your ego or make you feel special. Alternatively, I commit myself to slow and patient work. I dedicate myself to faithfully loving my neighbours and God in this place, with these people, in the midst of a lockdown.
Currently, I need to root myself in the belief that small acts of faithfulness matter and can be used to establish God’s kingdom. Jesus started a world changing faith community with only a small group of 12 men. Furthermore, he said that his kingdom would be like a mustard seed, small but powerful. It would have an impact on the world and provide shelter and care for others.
Throughout the remainder of this COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, it is important for us to remember that the simple acts of obedience and love count. It could be a Christmas card or extending kindness to the stranger. A long walk with a friend could help them feel seen and known. Even a text message reminding someone that they are not alone. Lastly, faithfulness can be expressed through hours of prayer, secretly behind closed doors, that somehow miraculously bless the neighbours around us. These are all important acts that help us love others.
When I ask God how to love my neighbours I usually long for grand ideas. Unfortunately, they somehow end up with me receiving acknowledgement for my contribution. However, what if that is not always how it works, or even how it should? Can God simply give me small, practical but achievable things that have an impact? What would it look like to commit to having disciplines in this season that help ground me in regular practices of serving God and serving others? Times of scripture and prayer, seeking God’s face and yearning to know him more. Space where I simply ask God for practical ways to love others followed by faithfully acting on the things I hear.
Perhaps, if you are like me, we sometimes make things more complicated than they need to be. Caring for others can simply start with a rhythm of coming to God each week in prayer. We ask for him to help us see how we have hurt others and how we can make it right. We listen for how we can bless others and actually do it. Additionally, we ask for the boldness to share who God is with someone else, even if we stumble through it.
In conclusion, how can you love others? Are there practical ways you are trying to live out your faith right now? Would you join me in trying to be faithful to the small things? As a church, Bytown Community Church seeks to love God and love others. We do this practically through concrete practices that shape us as followers of Christ. To learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org and join us for our January Wednesday evening series on “The Parables of Jesus: What is the Kingdom?”.